United Kingdom - London Borough of Tower Hamlets v (1) Mother (2) Father and (3) T (a child)

In the context of ongoing care proceedings, the court approved a local authority’s application to register the birth of a child, where the parents refused to do so and the father was opposed to registration on the grounds that, in his view, the United Kingdom is an authoritarian and capricious State.

Case status
Case number
[2019] EWHC 1572 (Fam)
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
High Court of England & Wales, Family Division
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of residence
United Kingdom
Relevant Legislative Provisions

Birth and Deaths Registration Act 1953 - Sections 1, 2, 4

Children Act 1989 - sections 3, 33, 100


A child, T, was born in Spring 2019 and was the subject of care proceedings (an interim care order in favour of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets). At the time of the judgment, the child's birth had not been registered. The child's mother was not opposed to registration in principle, but refused to register the child herself. The child's father was fundamentally opposed to registration on “unusual and somewhat eccentric grounds” which, Hayden J noted, essentially amounted to a “personal ideology” against the concept of “sovereignty”. In short, the father believed that registration would cause his son to become controlled by a State which is authoritarian and capricious.

Decision & Reasoning

The judge started by noting that parents are under a "duty" to register the birth of a child both as a facet of their parental responsibility (as defined at section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989), as well as under Section 1(1) of the Birth and Deaths Registration Act 1953. Such registration is "a simple requirement in law”. He then went on to reason that “It is axiomatic that the effect of the making of a care order or interim care order […] grants a Local Authority Parental Responsibility”, and also that the Children Act 1989 grants the local authority the power to “determine the extent to which a parent may meet his parental responsibility for the child”, as long as the authority is satisfied that it is necessary to exercise such power in order to “safeguard or promote the child’s welfare”.

The judge said that as the matter concerned a parental obligation to comply with a statutory duty, the statutory deadline for which had passed, the matter of whether the Local Authority could register the child instead of the parents did not technically require the oversight or approval of the court. However, given the “disturbing history” of the case, the Local Authority had chosen to seek the court’s approval.

The judge concluded on the main issue by stating that “it is manifestly in T’s best interest for his birth to be registered, in order that he may be recognised as a citizen and entitled to the benefits of such citizenship. It is also in his interests that his father should, especially during the course of these proceedings, have Parental Responsibility for him”, going on to add, “I am satisfied that the Local Authority may intervene to assert its own Parental Responsibility as a ‘qualified informant’ to register the birth”.


The High Court approved the Local Authority’s plan to register the birth of T pursuant to its statutory power, as it was “manifestly in T’s best interest for his birth to be registered”.

Caselaw cited

Re C [2016] 3 WLR 1557

Re H-B (Contact) [2015] EWCA Civ 389

Re W (Direct Contact) [2012] EWCA Civ 999

London Borough of Redbridge v SNA [2015] EWHC 2140 (Fam)